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Friday Headlines

1. PUTIN OFFERS MILITARY TRANSPORTERS TO PALESTINIANS…Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to announce the supply of armored vehicles and helicopters to the Palestinian Authority when he visited on Friday. Reports in the region’s media say Moscow intends supplying the Palestinians with some 50 armored vehicles and two helicopters for the personal use of Palestinian leader Mahmoud ‘Abbas. In Jerusalem ahead of his meeting with ‘Abbas in Ramallah, Putin called on Israel to aid ‘Abbas rather than pressure him.

2. RUSSIA CONCERNED ABOUT IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM…Russia is as concerned as Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Jerusalem after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Russia has been criticized by some in the international community for helping Iran develop nuclear technology. However, Putin insists Russia’s contribution has been purely in the civilian realm. He urged Tehran to do more to convince the world that it is not creating a nuclear-weapons program.

3. LEBANESE RECEIVE REWARD OFFER FOR MISSING ISRAELI…Householders around the southern Lebanese city Sidon say they have received posters in their mail offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the whereabouts of missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad. Arad disappeared over enemy territory in 1986. It is widely believed that he is no longer alive. Israel has pledged to clarify what happened to him and to return him to Israel. A group calling itself the Born to Freedom Foundation is said to be behind the campaign. The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star says the organization is Israeli based. The posters also contain the name of a British company.